Only if you’re rich: Coronavirus fears spark demand for private jet travel

Wealthy travelers stuck inside or outside of China due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak have been seeking private jet operators to arrange their flights despite the huge costs.

According to Darin Voyles of Paramount Business Jets, there was a “considerable uptick” in such requests, but the majority of these can’t be filled as they can’t get the crew or planes.

“Many simply do not want to send their aircraft and crews into mainland China. Aside from the risk of exposure for the crews, the operational and business concern is that when they return from mainland China they will essentially be unable to work for two weeks as they will have to go into quarantine immediately,” Voyles said, as cited by the BBC.

Singapore-based MyJet Asia has seen an increase of 80-90 percent in the last month. “A lot of people went away for Chinese New Year and are now struggling to get back to China,” said the company’s CEO Logan Ravishkansar. According to him, many have asked to be flown back to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

“But we are massively restricted on where we can fly to, while the airlines are not letting us charter their planes despite the money,” the executive added.

According to UK-based consultancy Ascend by Cirium, the number of flights scheduled to operate to, from and within China plunged by 34 percent from January 23 through February 11. Those cuts have left stranded passengers relying on government-led evacuations, it said.

Airlines across the world have been suspending their flights to and from China due to the COVID-19 (the official name of the coronavirus) outbreak, which has killed more than 1,850 people in China.

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) estimates, the outbreak could cut global carriers’ revenues by up to $5 billion in the first quarter. The ICAO said the coronavirus may hit the industry even worse than the Severe Acute Respiratory System (SARS), which cost carriers $7 billion in 2002-2003, due to the greater extent of flight cancellations.

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